If the idea of a home studio conjures up an image of a leafy and light-filled environment and a puppy placed near the door than you’ve just pictured the place where slow fashion label mei-li makes its garments.
A womenswear label by designer and maker Emily Thiang, mei-li was born out of a desire to
make practical, comfortable clothing.
“I have always had a love for sewing and clothes,” Thiang says.
“I found I was drawn to simple and practical clothing so I created a line to suffice those needs hoping other women might appreciate the same functionality from their clothes.”
The Brisbane-based designer makes all the clothes herself from her home studio in Upper Mount Gravatt, where it takes her between 3-5 hours to make a garment.
“It is a slow process but mei-li is a small business and I like being able to make all the garments in-house until mei-li grows to a point where I can get them made locally by other sewists,” Thiang says.
“At the moment I’m enjoying the home studio life. My bulldog Pearl keeps me company.”
When it comes to choosing fabrics for mei-li garments, Thiang looks for natural fibres that wear well and are environmentally friendly.
“I currently use a 55% hemp 45% organic cotton fabric and a 55% hemp 45% Tencel fabric,” Thiang says.
“I wanted to use fabrics that were a bit nicer on the environment. If I am going to contribute to this fashion industry then I want the fabrics to be sustainably made and at the end of the garment’s life it can go back into the ground and decompose.”
Overall, the mei-li label’s environmental impact is kept low by the made-to-order business model and local production to cut transport emissions. Thiang also keeps tabs on the brand’s waste.
“Since I make every garment in-house I can reduce the waste in production quite a bit. I keep every scrap of fabric and loose threads,” she says.
“The scrap fabric I make into pockets, bias binding and craft projects. The loose threads and scrap fabric that is too small I am collecting to stuff cushions and a dog bed.
“It has been an interesting journey. Even small things like sourcing non-plastic buttons and biodegradable elastic has been hard to find.”
Thiang uses corozo buttons on her garments, which are carved from a corozo or tagua nut, bearing the resemblance to a hard resin.
The mei-li pieces are a collection of floaty fabrics in neutral colours inclusive to all shapes and sizes. The garments are available in flexible sizes of small, medium and large, plus a custom option if you know your measurements and want a perfect fit.
Thiang focuses on creating comfortable and diverse pieces that are super wearable. A recent collection features 12 different garments that can all be worn back to front – providing a diverse piece of clothing to act as two pieces in the wardrobe.
Thiang says her customers are females who are mindful of their fashion consumption and are after garments that tick many boxes.
“At the end of the day, if I can create a garment that someone else can wear for many years to come then I will be a happy human.”
mei-li is stocked at Open House Collective in Brisbane’s West End and is available online here.